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AU: The company bringing exotic fruits to the marketplace

When a local fresh produce worker identified a gap in Australia for quality exotic fruits, he set up his own company to provide better access to the marketplace.

Rohan Bicknell established Produce Art two years ago, which aims to bring fruit that is often considered to be from "left field" to consumers in Australia and the rest of the world.

"We are looking to push some boundaries that haven't been pushed before and we are doing it quite well," Mr Bicknell said. "Being involved in a range of areas in the fresh produce world such as, imports, exports, interstate and wholesale domestic trading, online retail, and establishing a range of processed products. Produce Art has been able to cater well for growers and other suppliers. We push a lot of fruit that would not get a lot of money in the market through as many channels as we can to give our growers the best return possible.”

One of the main focuses for the company is Feijoa and, while it is not grown as widely here as in New Zealand, the elusive fruit is gaining in popularity in Australia and further afield.

"Australia is still very small, we only produce 10-20 per cent of what New Zealand does," Mr Bicknell said. "However as returns to growers have increased in the last five years the fruit is starting to be taken more seriously and there are certainly lots of people in Australia, mainly the large NZ expat community, that want access to the fruit nearly obsessively. With some serious plantings in WA I can see export becoming a potential in the near future. At the moment, New Zealand does a good job with exporting.”

Mr Bicknell admits the main focus for his marketing for the Feijoa is online, where he is already seeing a growth in sales through the portal ‘Feijoa Addiction’.

"These days it is getting quite popular, to the point that we've got over 7,000 followers on Facebook," he said. "We would probably move about a tonne of fruit just through the website a week in Feijoa season."

The company also recognises the importance of a delivery system where produce is grown and packaged on site and delivered direct to the customer or with less handling.

Australian coconuts is another line that Produce Art has been experimenting with. Although not as popular as the Feijoa, coconut is gaining more popularity in the health food market. 

“Our Australian coconuts are wild-harvested from North Queensland by a selection of professional coconutters," Mr Bicknell said. "The drinking coconuts we get are still alive for up to 4 weeks and take 3 days to get to us in Brisbane where we distribute. So good luck trying to get fresher.” 

Mr Bicknell pointed out that price of the coconuts has been the biggest issue however, with promotions, they plan to get the word out about how good they are.

Produce Art is also looking to create new markets locally and globally with other exotic fruits, such as Hawaiian Guavas, Persimmon, Custard Apple, Lychee, Dragon fruit, Jujube, Rambutan, Longan, Avocado and Mangoes. Recently Produce Art has started its own range of packaging where the aim is to supply to growers to make produce more presentable to buyers and consumers ultimately making better returns for the produce.

For more information:
Rohan Bicknell
Produce Art
Phone: +61 428 670 183

Publication date: 5/18/2017
Author: Matthew Russell
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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